Snape was born in Salford, and was initially employed by John Hutchinson and Sons, a company that pioneered the use of the Leblanc process to produce soda ash, and led to the creation of a large chemical industry in Widnes, Lancashire. He subsequently established his own business, T. Snape and Company, with its works in the town. In 1890 Snape's became a constituent part of the United Alkali Company.
Snape was a prominent member of the Methodist Free Church and a supporter of the temperance and peace movements. He stood as Liberal candidate for parliament on a number of occasions, but was only successful at the 1892 general election, when he became MP for Heywood. He lost his seat three years later to George Kemp of the Conservatives.
Although no longer in parliament, Snape continued his involvement with politics. At the time of his death he was a county alderman on Lancashire County Council, and a justice of the peace for the county.
- Manchester Faces & Places (Vol X, No 5 ed.). London & Manchester: JG Hammond & Co Ltd. February 1899. p. 82.
- Obituary: Alderman T. Snape, The Times, 10 August 1912, p.9
- Andrew Popp, Governance at Points of Corporate Transition: Networks and the Formation of the United Alkali Company, 1890–1895 in Enterprise and Society Volume 7 issue 2 pp. 315-352 (2006)
- "Imperial Chemical Industries PLC, Archives of Brunner, Mond and Company Ltd and its Subsidiaries". The National Archives. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Thomas Snape